The positive role of internet use for young people with additional support needs: Identity and connectedness

Stephanie Bannon, Tracy McGlynn, Karen McKenzie, Ethel Quayle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


This article documents findings, from one of the first studies in this field of research, considering young people with Additional Support Needs’ use of the internet and how this might contribute to the development of identity and social connectedness. Six focus groups, including 36 young people with Additional Support Needs (aged 13–18) were completed. Transcribed group discussions were analysed using Framework Analysis. Two themes were developed: ‘Identity and Connectedness’ and ‘Issues related to Risk’. The theme ‘Identity and Connectedness’ is detailed in the current article and encompassed three sub-themes (implicit belonging, explicit belonging and competence). The use of the internet by adolescents in the current study appears to allow the young people to engage in activities which support the development of identity, competence and a sense of connectedness and belonging within a social network, essential to healthy development and psychological well-being and areas that may present a challenge for this population in offline environments. Findings also indicate a need to consider how best to support this group, in relation to understanding the role of supervision, the range of cognitive ability within this population and additional social pressures, which may impact on safe and effective internet use and this populations’ ability to take full advantage of what the internet has to offer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-514
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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